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12/13 Match Reports

24th April
Eastbourne Rangers 2 v 1 Bexhill United III
Dan Harmer 44'
Mike Pickard 72'

Rangers are just CHAMPION

Eastbourne Rangers went down in East Sussex Football League HISTORY last night (Wednesday) at The Polegrove as they overcame a strengthened Bexhill United III side to win 2-1. Gaffer Nick Stevenson had to make do without the pace of winger Josh Kyte, striker Glen Noble as well as long term injury victim Mark Hymans but the gaffer still had a very strong 14 to choose from. Keeper Grant Smith go the nod between the sticks while the back four of Ricky Curran, Mike Pickard, Dan Harmer and Ryan Webb continued as they did against Peasmarsh United at the weekend. Jules Waters returned to centre midfield to partner skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin which saw Rob Anderson show his versatility yet again wit him being utilised on the right wing. This saw Chris Ward move to the left wing while up front, talisman Ben Jesson was partnered by Stuart Potter which saw Luke Davies drop to the bench with Tom Tribe and Conor Middleton giving rangers the full compliment of substitutes.

Rangers knew this was always going to be a tough game and they were not to be proved wrong. Bexhill started the stronger in front of the home faithful with some good football and looked dangerous with their energy and enthusiasm. The question was, could they keep this up for the full 90 minutes? On 22 minutes, Bexhill took a deserved lead when rangers were left wanting down their left hand side. The pace of the Bexhill winger was too hot for Webby to handle, and despite Harmer trying to move over to close the shot down, he was just too late as the home player squeezed the ball between Smith and his front post. 1-0 Bexhill.

As ever, rangers rose to the challenge although the red and blacks nearly when two down but keeper Smith was on hand to make an initial save with Webby mopping up on the rangers goal line. The more the half went on, the more rangers edged into the game. Bexhill still look strong on the break but Curran, Pickard and Harmer usually snuffed out any danger. On the stroke of half time, rangers earner a corner on the right hand side. As in-swinger from Waters was not properly dealt with by the Bexhill defence which allowed the “silver fox in the box” Harmer to stab home right on half time, much to the disappointment of The Polegrove faithful. A goal from the most unlikely of sources….. 1-1.

This may well have seemed harsh on Bexhill but the last 10 minutes of the half belonged to rangers who played some neat football with Anderson and Jesson looking like a particular threat down the rangers right hand side. Half time, and panic not. Despite Bexhill’s formation of 3-5-2, Bennett-Tomlin and Waters had coped admirably against the trio of Bexhill centre midfielders by working their socks off throughout the first half.

During the second half, rangers showed their quality and began to dictate play although Bexhill, who kept the ball very well at times, continued to look very dangerous on the break. Almost immediately from kick off, rangers gave the ball away on the left hand side. This saw Bexhill counter, and with rangers all at seas at the back a Bexhill striker was put though one on one with keeper Smith. Bearing down, the youngster pulled the trigger and must have thought he had scored. Keeper Smith had other ideas and pulled off a quite sublime stop low to his left hand side to keep Bexhill at bay.

World class goalkeeping.

This galvanised rangers who knew they were only one kick away from claiming the league title. A change early on saw Tribe replace Webb at left back which instantly gave rangers a more attacking edge down the left with younger legs. Rangers began dictate play and the longer the half went on play was being switched to both full backs whenever possible as this was where Bexhill had left gaps due to their formation. Curran was immense at full back and seemingly had the Bexhill left wing back in his pocket for most of the game. This combined with sensible distribution and plenty of chat from the rangers full back saw he have his best game of the season so far.

In the middle, Bennett-Tomlin and Waters looked to have won the battle against the Bexhill trio with the rangers duo now commanding the tempo and direction of the game. Pickard and Harmer continued to look solid while the work rate of Jesson up front was immense – he even found himself covering at left back on a Bexhill break…! Two rangers substitutions in quick succession saw Potter and Ward make way for Davies and Middleton respectively – fresh legs were needed to get that all important win. It was clear very quickly that the experience and know how of Davies up front was going to give rangers that all important lift while the fresh legs of Middleton on the left would also play a part.

The game was becoming more stretched and this was to the advantage of rangers who were clearly the fitter, albeit slightly older side. Bexhill began to run out of steam and the rangers ticka tack (lol) was too much for the youngsters to handle. 18 minutes from time rangers took the lead. A Jesson corner was right on the money which saw powerhouse Mike Pickard leap the highest to slam home an unstoppable header giving rangers a 2-1 lead.

Bexhill heads began to drop and with a few resorting to nasty challenges, it was clear the youngsters were rattled. The onus was now on Bexhill while rangers knew a solid defensive display for the remainder of the game would see them crowned champions. Rangers solidarity shone through with Davies and Jesson defending from the front while at the back and in midfield everyone put in a shift. In the dying moments, it was clearly going to be rangers day when a Bexhill striker blazed over the bar unmarked at the back post. An anxious moment to say the least but 30 seconds later, the referee signalled the end of the match…… RANGERS WERE CHAMPIONS!

Some outstanding rangers performances with Bennett-Tomlin (who was particularly immense in a 20 minute second half spell) and Waters in the middle outstanding to see off a midfield three. Harmer put his body on the line throughout at the back while the industry and work rate of Jesson up front was superb. However, the MOM goes to someone who raised the bar and had his best game in a rangers shirt all season – defensively sound and rarely put a foot wrong – Ricky Curran. Top work ginge.

This was by no means an easy game and credit should be given to Bexhill. If they were able to field that team every week (without losing players to the reserves) they would surely be higher up the league. Rangers played their part too, and with scoring at key times in a game becoming a habit to bring themselves back into games, credit must be given to the players who never stop until the whistle blows.

This win sees rangers crowned champions for the THIRD consecutive season.

Three seasons.

Three promotions.

Three league titles.

Not many, if any, can boast the same consistency as this. Blending a team together takes time but ever since rangers first season in existence, the club has gone from strength to strength. All the players and the management team can be very proud and take great heart that there should be much more to come providing we all stick together.

#superrangers

#EBR4LYF

(4-4-2)

GK Grant Smith
RB Ricky Curran - MOM
LB Ryan Webb (Tom Tribe 60')
CB Dan Harmer
CB Mike Pickard
CM Dave Bennett-Tomlin (c)
CM Julian Waters
RW Rob Anderson
LW Christian Ward (Connor Middleton 68')
F Ben Jesson
F Stuart Potter (Luke Davies 65')
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